By Ajong Mbapndah L
“Africa has typically not been a partisan issue when it comes to U.S Presidential politics,” said Ambassador Herman Cohen in his opening statement at a Rayburn House Forum on Setting U.S-Africa Policy for the next Administration organized by the Africa-America Institute.
The statement from Cohen, representing the Kasich campaign,summed up the discussions animated by representatives of candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties still in the race.
“I can be very brief with Senator Cruz’s African Policy,” said his representative Michael Ledeen, before declaring in dramatic fashion that “he doesn’t have one.”
From security challenges , to aid, immigration, trade and investment, lifting sanctions on Zimbabwe, human rights and democracy, the representatives all held views that were similar.
When moderator Carol Pineau asked if the presentations from the representatives had swayed anyone in the huge audience at the Rayburn House, the answer was an emphatic no. When the representatives were asked if their candidates will visit Africa on their first term if elected as next President, they all answered yes. Asked on prospects of continuing with the USA-Africa Leaders Summit initiated by President Obama, all the representatives of the candidates were for a continuation.
Representing the candidates were Wala Blegay for Bernie Sanders, Herman Cohen for John Kasich, Michelle Gavin for Hillary Clinton, J.D,Gordon for Donald Trump and Michael Ledeen for the Ted Cruz Campaign.
The discussions were part of the conversations on Africa series of the AAI under the theme Setting U.S –Africa Policy for the Next Administration.Other topics of discussion at the forum included remaining priorities for Africa in the 114th Congress,the Obama Administration’s Approach to promoting Education in Africa, and a fires side chat on best practices for U.S Engagement in Africa with former U.S Envoy to the African Union Reuben Brigety and Amini Kajunju,President and CEO of the Africa Institute.